Nonprofit marketing departments are often strapped for dollars. Word-of-mouth is an effective and sometimes only way that marketers can generate buzz around their organization and their cause. Here are three creative ways to leverage the power of word-of-mouth marketing for your nonprofit:

  1. Obtain free publicity. At sites such as and, sign up for free alerts when journalists seek story ideas or sources. HARO (Help a Reporter Out) offers free and paid subscriptions, and SourceBottle is free. Sign up also for Google Alerts. Simply type in keywords relevant to your cause and receive instant notifications.
  2. Host a fundraiser with a famous brand. Several restaurants — including Chili’s, Panera Bread and Zaxby’s — have fundraising nights on which a percentage of patrons’ dollars goes to your nonprofit. You can raise money while also increasing awareness of your organization. People who frequent these restaurants will see your brand and can interact with those who already support and advocate it. As you promote the event on social media, people searching for favorite brands are more likely to see your organization.
  3. Generate excitement with mobile video. Chances are that you or one of your team members or volunteers has a smartphone with an incredible camera. Use it to capture behind-the-scenes moments with your staff and volunteers and to depict your work in the community. Ask supporters to upload their own mobile videos about why they give or even to create a fun challenge encourage support.

Many people remember the ice bucket challenge of 2014 when supporters of research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) filmed themselves having water dropped on their heads or donated money to the ALS Association. Luckily, many did both. Altogether, the challenge raised $115 million.